PowerLine -> Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End

PowerLine -> Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End
  • The Alt-Right vs. the Ctrl-Left
  • Michael Cromartie, RIP
  • The Texas Storm and Climate Change
  • Terry McAuliffe changes his tune on statues
Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 04:33 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

The New York Times headlines: “Felix Sater, Trump Associate, Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected.’” Sounds exciting, right? But the story fizzles rapidly.

Felix Sater was a real estate broker who didn’t work for the Trump organization. (Hence the weaselly “Trump associate” headline.) He has, to say the least, a colorful history. But what is the story? Sater sent a couple of emails to Michael Cohen, who did work for the Trump organization as a lawyer. Sater, a Russian immigrant, enthusiastically promoted the idea of a Trump property in Moscow, which he claimed he could deliver. The Times likes this portion of a Sater email, dated November 3, 2015:

Micheal we can own this story. Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. “Business, politics, whatever it is all the same for someone who knows how to deal”

And this:

Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.

The Times says there is no indication that Cohen even replied to Sater’s emails. In any event, the Moscow project was investigated briefly and, the Times says, dropped. The Trump organization has properties in 11 countries, and Russia isn’t one of them. So the story is what? A Russian immigrant who didn’t work for Trump had a vision of making Donald Trump look good (and making himself a lot of money) via a business deal with the Russians, which Trump’s people never followed up on. It’s like a joke with no punch line.

The Times tries to make something out of nothing:

The emails show that, from the earliest months of Mr. Trump’s campaign, some of his associates viewed close ties with Moscow as a political advantage.

Oh, please. Sater was hoping to make a lot of money as a broker, but the Trump organization didn’t pursue the deal. Has Sater even met Donald Trump? Not as far as the emails disclose.

You can hear the gnashing of teeth as the Times recites the story that it wishes had been true:

The emails obtained by The Times make no mention of Russian efforts to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the hacking of Democrats’ emails. Mr. Trump has said there was no collusion with Russian officials. Previously released emails, however, revealed that his campaign was willing to receive damaging information about Mrs. Clinton from Russian sources.

“Willing to receive damaging information” about a political opponent? That is pathetic. I have never heard of a campaign that wasn’t willing to receive damaging information about an opponent. At least the Trump campaign didn’t manufacture lies about Hillary Clinton, as the Clinton campaign or the DNC apparently did via the fake “dossier” in which the FBI, under Barack Obama’s corrupt Department of Justice, seems to have collaborated. If you are looking for a scandal, you need to look no further. But of course, the New York Times, as a Democratic Party newspaper, has no interest in looking into that story.


The Alt-Right vs. the Ctrl-Left

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 03:59 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

A couple weeks back, before the events in Charlottesville blew up the world and gave a stimulus-style boost to the statue-removal industry (public infrastructure in reverse?), I asked on Twitter for definitions of the “alt-right,” and baited liberal readers to explain how or whether they distinguished between the “alt-right” and the generic “right” that liberals also seem to hate just as much. One reason for doing this is that for a lot of people, “alt-right” has become a lazy shorthand term to use against any and all conservatives. Don’t like Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell? Just call them “alt-right.” For a certain cast of the liberal mind, all of the right is now the “alt-right.”

To my pleasant surprise I got a number of intelligent and serious responses, noting that the real “alt-right,” like we saw in Charlottesville, are distinguished from the old-fashioned right by its explicit anti-Semitism, and the kind of “blood-and-soil” nationalism—which is clearly distinct from patriotism—that we also saw on display in Charlottesville. To this might be added a contempt for the rule of law which is the bedrock of any decent constitutional government,  which embraces a mob mentality that erodes the rule of law. (On this point, see Lincoln’s famous Lyceum Address of 1838, whose teaching is just as relevant today as it was then.) For my part, if I should ever get the chance to confront Richard Spencer, I think I’d conclude my cross-examination with the proposition that by his views and actions he had implicitly renounced his American citizenship, and should, therefore, be deported.

The term “alt-right” probably originated with one of the more idiosyncratic thinkers on the right, Paul Gottfried of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, way back in 1988. You can read some of his observations on the scene here. (NB: Gottfried has always been a strong critic and opponent of my peeps in the Claremont school of political thought, and especially Harry Jaffa, but I have always found Gottfried worth reading.) And while the “alt” in “alt-right” is supposed to be shorthand for “alternative,” given that it also tracks with computer keyboard shorthand, instead of using “alt-left” for the mirror image of the alt-right such as the Antifa thugs, I prefer “ctrl-left,” which is obvious shorthand for “control-left,” which seems to to me a fitting epithet to use in rebuttal.

A final question concerns the extent to which Trump has legitimized or summoned forth a latent neo-fascist right. I’ve known about Richard Spencer and his movement for several years, having stumbled across an organized event by him online one day. From CNN you’d think he sprang full-blown from the Trump campaign only in 2016. But there is a sense in which Trump’s blunt and crude messaging in 2016 unleashed the alt-right in part because conservatives have been too timid for too long in resisting the liberal narrative about racist America. But it was only “blunt” and “crude” because he expressed widely-held sentiments of millions of decent Americans.

Here it is worth taking in the words of another of my old teachers, William B. Allen, who was chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission under President Reagan. Allen recently did a turn on the Seth Leibsohn-Chris Buskirk radio show on this point, and a podcast and transcript are available over at American Greatness. Allen reminds us that the left doesn’t just hate Trump—they hate us. This is why Allen, who opposed Trump in the 2016 GOP nomination campaign, now supports him.

The whole thing is worth listening to, but here is the key part:

Just before I left the Commission on Civil Rights I appeared before the Wednesday morning caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives, and gave them a similar account, and explained what was necessary. I said it is time to stand up and tell the country what is going on, how it is being divided, and what the danger is. And not one of the entire delegation in 1992 was ready to do that. In fact, most explicitly said to me, “We can’t do that because we’ll be called racists.” What I am saying to you is that it is cowardice—the cowardice of conservatives—who put their political careers ahead of their country’s future.

Trump differs because he is unconcerned about being called a racist. All the more embarrassing since Trump is not a conservative. But one thing about Trump is that he is no coward.

Chaser: While we’re on the subject of Antifa and the “ctrl-left,” I’m wondering if there was a single instance of violence at any of the Tea Party rallies a few years back that terrified so many liberals and journalists? I’ll wait. . .


Michael Cromartie, RIP

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 12:43 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)Very sad news today of the passing of Michael Cromartie, after a long battle with cancer. I’ve known Mike for 30 years, and he was always my favorite person to encounter on the street or anywhere else in Washington. No one had a more infectious sense of joy and delight, which was the obvious product of his deep Christian faith, which he nevertheless applied with flinty realism in our always troubled world.

You can read more about Michael from his official biography at the Ethics and Public Policy center here. It is hard to convey how much he will be missed because there is no one else like him in Washington DC—or anywhere else for that matter.

He received the dread news last week from his doctors that there was nothing more they could do for him. I posted a note on Facebook last week upon hearing the news:

There are not enough words for this extraordinary Christian gentleman, a true Knight of the Faith who wears his greatest Christian virtue—humility—with a lightness that puts the rest of us to shame. It is the key to his large influence in Washington, which is unknown to the wider world in inverse proportion to the greatness of soul that gives rise to it.

I could try to describe his excellence as a human being at more length, and why he was unique to the Washington scene, but I’d rather point to the superb Christianity Today magazine profile of him done in 2013, titled simply, but accurately, “The Shepherd.” The article tells the story of Mike’s creation, the Faith Angle Forum, which brought together mostly secular (and therefore clueless) journalists and theologians of all faiths to decode how religion actually works, as opposed to the cartoon version that reigns in most newsrooms. This paragraph captures Mike’s spirit perfectly:

Of course, without Cromartie’s affable guidance and his enthusiasm for his friends on both ends of the spectrum, the forums could not have navigated the treacherous waters of faith and politics for so long. At the 2005 session, several journalists pressed [Pastor Rick] Warren on the issue of damnation. The questions were pointed, the atmosphere tense. Cromartie intervened: “Questions about eternal destination are best handled over the cocktail hour soon to follow.”

About those cocktail hours: Maybe my fondest memory of Mike—and likely the hardest I have ever laughed in my whole life—was taking in his dead-on simultaneous imitation of the two modes of Jimmy Swaggart—the piano-playing gospel preacher and the seedy motel prostitute customer. (Mike didn’t care much for gross hypocrisy.) Just a couple glasses of whiskey did the trick, and if anyone had ever taped it he could have had a second career on Saturday Night Live. Not that he was without some minor show biz experience: he was the Philadelphia 76ers mascot for a season back in the 1970s.

As the Christianity Today story concluded: “Such is the singular accomplishment of Cromartie, who decided that lighting a candle was better than cursing the darkness.”

Mike sat down with me in the summer of 2016 for a podcast about his work, which I’m happy to repost today in case you missed it.


The Texas Storm and Climate Change

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 10:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I’m sure if only President Trump had kept America in the Paris Climate Accord Hurricane Harvey would have blown back out to sea or not been as severe. That’s just about how the climatistas are predictably reacting to the flooding and devastation in Houston.

Once again we have Roy Spencer on the case. While the media is rushing to make “unprecedented” the most overused word in their vocabulary, Prof. Roy has checked the record, and guess what? The rainfall amounts are entirely precedented:

In the context of climate change, is what we are seeing in Houston a new level of disaster which is becoming more common?

The flood disaster unfolding in Houston is certainly very unusual. But so are other natural weather disasters, which have always occurred and always will occur. . .

There have been many flood disasters in the Houston area, even dating to the mid-1800s when the population was very low. In December of 1935 a massive flood occurred in the downtown area as the water level height measured at Buffalo Bayou in Houston topped out at 54.4 feet. By way of comparison, as of 6:30 a.m. this (Monday) morning, the water level in the same location is at 38 feet, which is still 16 feet lower than in 1935. I’m sure that will continue to rise.

Even with the system stalling, the greatest multi-day rainfall total as of 3 9 a.m.this Monday morning is just over 30 39.7 inches, with many locations recording over 20 inches. We should recall that Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 (a much smaller and weaker system than Harvey) produced a 43 inch rainfall total in only 24 hours in Houston.

Worth reading the whole thing.


Terry McAuliffe changes his tune on statues

Posted: 28 Aug 2017 10:34 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is a slippery customer. In 2015, McAuliffe favored keeping Virginia’s monuments to Confederate leaders, arguing that “these are part of our heritage.” “Leave the statues and those things alone,” he told MSNBC.

But just two years later, McAuliffe supports local governments that want to take statues of Robert E. Lee and others down. How does he explain this shift?

He did so yesterday by telling Jake Tapper that the statues have become very controversial. But the statues have always been very controversial. In the 1890s, black leader John Mitchell opposed the erection of the statue of Gen. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, calling it a celebration of Lee’s “legacy of treason and blood.”

Indeed, the law the Democrats are trying to overturn, which prohibits local jurisdictions from trying to “disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials” erected to honor Civil War veterans, was passed in 1904 precisely because the legislature recognized that these monuments were, and would remain, controversial.

They were controversial enough in 2015 that McAuliffe had to take a position on the matter. Surely, he understood that a great many Virginians were not best pleased to see statues of those who fought against the Union and on the side of Slave States.

However, McAuliffe also understood that most Virginians want the statues on display and that it was in his interests as governor to agree with that position. Now that he’s a lame duck (term limits are not without advantages) his interests have shifted.

In any event, the fact that an issue is very controversial provides no justification for taking a particular side. Lots of things are very controversial. Gay marriage, for one. McAuliffe’s decision to let felons vote en masse, for another. The controversy raises issues; it doesn’t answer them.

I happen to agree that local jurisdictions should be able to remove statues if that’s what the people in the locality want to do. But McAuliffe offers no sensible justification for his change of heart.

As I said, he’s a slippery customer.


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